Brilliant end to “The Tell Halaf Adventure” with an auction


The doors closed for the last time on the 'The Tell Halaf Adventure' yesterday, after a run of 28 weeks during which it attracted 780,000 visitors. The exhibition ended with a large auction, during which the photographic reproductions that had featured as part of the show were sold. Both the auctioneer, Peter-Klaus Schuster, former director general of the National Museums in Berlin, and the public were in high spirits, despite the pouring rain. All reproductions were sold and carried home that same evening by the happy successful bidders. The proceeds, totalling more than €6000, will be put to good use in the ongoing restoration of smaller finds from Tell Halaf.

The exhibition design for 'The Tell Halaf Adventure', created by Moritz Schneider of NEO.STUDIO NEUMANN SCHNEIDER ARCHITEKTEN, won not one, but two awards: the award from the Art Directors Club for Germany in 2011 in the 'communication within a space' category, and the prestigious red dot award in the area of communication design, in the largest design competition in the world.

The exhibition was the first ever showing of the reassembled statues of the gods from the Tell Halaf Museum, which were shattered into 27,000 fragments in the massive aerial bombardment of Berlin in 1943. The stone figures from the Max Oppenheim collection were given a new lease of life, as part of intense restoration work lasting 9 years (2001 to 2010), conducted by the Museum of the Ancient Near East-National Museums in Berlin. The restoration work was made possible thanks to generous support from the Sal. Oppenheim bank, the Sal. Oppenheim Foundation, the Alfred Freiherr von Oppenheim Foundation and the German Research Foundation. The desire to see the restoration of these magnificent material testaments to the cultural history of Mesopotamia, unearthed in North Syria, became the driving force behind a living 'alliance for the gods'. The degree of public interest that the exhibition enjoyed over the 28 weeks clearly illustrates just what a modern-day cultural feat the restoration project has been.

The monumental sculpture of a bird of prey, also known as "Hans Huckebein", will now resume its traditional place in the Late Hittite and Aramaic Room at the Museum of the Ancient Near East. Other monuments from Tell Halaf, such as a part of the relief panels just shown in the exhibition, will also go on display there, together with sculptures from Zincirli.

The large stone sculptures and reliefs from Tell Halaf are to be integrated into the Museum of the Ancient Near East's new permanent exhibition once essential renovation work in the Pergamon Museum has been completed. After the reopening, visitors will be greeted by a reconstruction of the entrance to the western palace that will include several original sculptures and which will form a new entrance to the Museum of the Ancient Near East.